Woodstock ... a potted guide

Places worth visiting...

Blenheim Palace

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Morris Motors Museum

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The small town of Woodstock, eight miles north-west of Oxford and on the edge of the Cotswolds, is best known as the location of Blenheim Palace (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), which was also the birthplace of Winston Churchill in 1874. 

But Woodstock is not just associated with its famous palace and the town has a rich history of its own. The name Woodstock is Old English in origin, meaning a "clearing in the woods". The Domesday Book of 1086 describes Woodstock as a royal forest. 

Woodstock was the scene of King Henry II's courtship of Rosamund Clifford (Fair Rosamund) and the market of the town was established when King Henry II gave Woodstock a Royal charter in 1179. Æthelred the Unready, King of England, is said to have held an assembly at Woodstock. 

Edward, elder son of King Edward III and heir apparent, was born in Woodstock Manor in 1330 and during his lifetime he was commonly called Edward of Woodstock. In 1554, when Thomas Wyatt led an uprising to depose Queen Mary I and put her half-sister Princess Elizabeth on the throne in her place, Elizabeth was imprisoned in a lodge in Woodstock as a precaution. She was released in April 1555 after nearly a year in captivity. 

Near the town was Woodstock Palace, a residence that was popular with several English kings throughout the medieval period. The building was destroyed in the English Civil War but 60 years later the palace remains were cleared for the construction of Blenheim Palace. 

In the 17th Century, Woodstock was altered greatly when the 1st Duke of Marlborough became a permanent resident. Today Woodstock is largely dependent on tourists - many of whom visit Blenheim Palace - but one of the town's other popular attractions is the Oxfordshire Museum, which occupies a large historic house, Fletcher’s House, in the town centre.

The museum has a garden containing works of art and a Dinosaur Garden with a full-size replica of a Megalosaurus. Woodstock's parish church of St Mary Magdalene has a Norman doorway and the church has a musical clock that chimes every hour.

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© Loving The Cotswolds. 2019.